Las Ve­gas looks to Lu­nar New Year Gam­ing cap­i­tal’s ho­tels decked out to wel­come Chi­nese tourists

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By AMY HE in New York amyhe@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Las Ve­gas, here we come! That’s what the city’s tourism in­dus­try is hop­ing for as it gets set to greet vis­i­tors from China to cel­e­brate the Lu­nar New Year.

The city will be kick­ing off the Year of the Rooster on Fri­day, Lu­nar New Year’s Eve, with most fes­tiv­i­ties go­ing through Sun­day at var­i­ous ho­tels and casi­nos.

“Hon­or­ing the rich cul­ture and his­tor­i­cal im­por­tance of Spring Fes­ti­val, Las Ve­gas will fea­ture sym­bolic dé­cor and stun­ning col­or­ful dis­plays, wish­ing pros­per­ity, health and hap­pi­ness to all,” said the Las Ve­gas Con­ven­tion and Vis­i­tors Author­ity, the city’s tourism bureau

Dragon and lion dances and other per­for­mances will be put on dur­ing the week­end at The Lucky Dragon Ho­tel and Casino, the Cos­mopoli­tan Las Ve­gas, ARIA Re­sort and Casino, the Palazzo Las Ve­gas, the Vene­tian, MGM Grand Ho­tel and Casino, the Bel­la­gio, and the Palms Casino Re­sort.

The LINQ Prom­e­nade, an out­door re­tail, din­ing, and en­ter­tain­ment plaza, will hold four days of per­for­mances by a Sichuan dance troupe and the lo­cal Chi­nese com­mu­ni­ties.

Singer and song­writer Sam Hui of Can­topop fame will be per­form­ing at the Vene­tian on Jan 28, and Shan­non Lee, daugh­ter of mar­tial artist Bruce Lee, will be mak­ing an ap­pear­ance.

Some ho­tels will be of­fer­ing spe­cial Chi­nese food menus. At Wynn-Encore, a pop­u­lar dim sun brunch will be served. It costs $68.88 and $58.88 for chil­dren 5 and younger. The prices use the num­ber 8, which is con­sid­ered lucky in Chi­nese cul­ture.

The Lucky Dragon Ho­tel and Casino, which opened in De­cem­ber and was de­signed specif­i­cally with Chi­nese and other Asian guests in mind, said that its oc­cu­pancy rate is ex­pected to be up dur­ing the hol­i­day, though he de­clined to dis­close how many peo­ple have stayed in the ho­tel since it opened.

Chris Jones, mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer at the Clark County De­part­ment of Avi­a­tion, said Lu­nar New Year has long been a sig­nif­i­cant event among casi­nos in Las Ve­gas and that the em­pha­sis from the var­i­ous re­sorts will be on VIP clien­tele com­ing from China dur­ing the hol­i­day. “It’s the hand­ful of Chi­nese high-rollers who come here dur­ing the Chi­nese New Year pe­riod that re­ally move the nee­dle,” he said.

But those vis­i­tors are usu­ally flown in on casi­nos’ pri­vate air­craft and not on com­mer­cial air­lin­ers, such as Hainan Air­lines.

The car­rier’s first di­rect flight be­tween China and Las Ve­gas be­gan op­er­at­ing in early De­cem­ber, con­nect­ing pas­sen­gers from Bei­jing to McCar­ran In­ter­na­tional Air­port. Though pas­sen­ger tal­lies for the first month are not yet avail­able, Jones said he ex­pects a good amount of ac­tiv­ity on the flight con­sid­er­ing that the route is new and De­cem­ber is of­ten not a peak in­ter­na­tional travel sea­son to the US.

“We’re just in the very be­gin­ning of this process, and it’s some­thing we’re in for the long haul. It’s phe­nom­e­nal that they have the abil­ity to fly here non­stop,” he said.

Jones said it took 18 hours for him to fly to Bei­jing from Las Ve­gas so he could be on Hainan’s maiden flight to Las Ve­gas. The Bei­jing trip in­cluded a two-hour flight to Seat­tle and a five-hour lay­over. His di­rect flight back to Las Ve­gas was 11 hours.

“It doesn’t sound like a lot, but shav­ing that amount of time off for the peo­ple that are com­ing from Bei­jing is ab­so­lutely huge,” he said.

Be­cause of bi­lat­eral agree­ments be­tween the US and China, there is a limit to the num­ber of flights that can op­er­ate be­tween the two coun­tries go­ing to cities called “Zone 1”—Bei­jing, Shang­hai, and Guangzhou. Las Ve­gas is in­ter­ested in routes for sec­ond-tier cities like Shen­zhen, Chengdu, Xi­a­men, and Chongqing, Jones said.

“Some­body in the US, if you walk up to them to ask if you’ve ever heard of Chongqing, China, the odds are they prob­a­bly would say ‘no’, but from my per­spec­tive I look at it and go, that’s a great op­por­tu­nity. Chengdu has 14, 15 mil­lion peo­ple, that’s a great op­por­tu­nity. You can go down the line on some of these sec­ond-tier cities in China that are big­ger than most cities in the United States. Any of those would be a great op­por­tu­nity,” he said.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Las Ve­gas’ new­est re­sort, Lucky Dragon Ho­tel & Casino, is the first re­sort de­signed from the ground up to cre­ate an au­then­tic Asian cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence.

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